Monarchy is a crucial part of our history. However, the monarch’s role in ruling the country has changed significantly over time.
The first kings of England came to the throne over a thousand years ago and their powers have been reduced (this came when Charles I was executed following the Civil War). However, the monarchy isn’t just a way of increasing tourism and Elizabeth II still has a role to play in British life and politics.
In the United Kingdom’s unwritten constitution (the set of laws and principles under which our country is governed) the monarch’s powers include the following:
- Opening and dissolving parliament
- Appointing the prime minister
- Giving consent to bills passed by parliament (without this consent a bill can’t become law)
- Appointing bishops and members of the House of Lords
This might seem like a lot of power, but these roles are largely ceremonial. For example, her power to appoint the prime minister sounds mighty, but in fact it is simply a convention that the monarch must appoint the leader of the biggest party in the House of Commons.
Under a convention of the UK’s unwritten constitution, the monarch must always take advice from their ministers — i.e. the elected government.
What do you think? Is it important to maintain our historical identity or is it now an empty ceremony?
Either way, the UK does not look like it will become a republic anytime soon! (a state that doesn’t have a monarch). All the main political parties support the idea of a monarchy.